2009 NBA Draft: Players Who Should Return to College
All NBA draft prospects have the month of June to make their final decision of whether to stay or return to their collegiate programs.
Some have already forgone their college eligibility by hiring an agent. There remain, however, a host of players who have not and thus can still return.
There are many players still left that could benefit from another year of college. Some have more to prove, some have potential to meet, and some need to learn that basketball isn't all about how big and fast you are.
These players should return to their respective programs and work on turning weaknesses into strengths before becoming a professional.
Damion James - Texas
It's unfortunate that size has such an impact on the draft. Damion James is a 6'7" forward without a perimeter game.
His scoring has increased each year at Texas (15 a game in his junior year). His free throw percentage improved greatly his junior year as well, which is important for post players.
But James will need to become more of a threat from the perimeter to be successful in the NBA.
Nic Wise - Arizona, Devan Downey - South Carolina
The biggest fault for these two is the one thing they can't control: their height. Wise and Downey are 5'10" and 5'9", respectively.
Both have averaged 4 and half assists this past season. Downey is more of a pure scorer and averaged nearly 20 a game. Wise has been called more a pure point guard.
Since this draft is heavy on point guards (Curry, Flynn, Rubio, Lawson, Teague, Jennings, Holiday, Mills, Reynolds, Devendorf, Evans), it is probably best they return and hone their weaknesses.
Nick Calathes - Florida
A 6'6" point guard who shoots nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc? Sounds enticing.
What Calathes is missing in speed and athleticism he makes up for in basketball know-how.
Calathes has averaged a little over 6 assists to go along with his 16 point career average in both of his seasons under Billy Donovan.
Regardless, Calathes could benefit from running a Florida team that should be more competitive in the SEC.
If Calathes' question mark is his athleticism and quickness, then it would be better to see if he could improve on his assist-to-turnover ratio. He has a 2/1 ratio in his career.
If his athleticism will be the question, then he must separate himself from other point guards by proving his control is unmatched.
Right now, his ratio is below Ty Lawson's and closer to that of Jonny Flynn's. Obviously, Flynn brings a little more than Calathes.
Tyler Smith - Tennessee
I had the opportunity to see Tennessee play this year, so it is hard for me to remain impartial. Their offense was stagnant to say the least, which doesn't bode well for the main option, Tyler Smith.
As a 6'7" wing, Smith will definitely find a home in the NBA and will be a first round pick. He averaged 17 points per game this past season.
Smith's game showed signs of his versatility. He could knock down the jump shot, but also showed an understanding of timely cuts and attacking the basket on the back side.
He probably could stay for his senior year and improve his three-point shooting, especially in Bruce Pearl's offense which relies heavily on the three-ball.
Smith will also need to find that killer instinct as a first option offensively.
Perhaps with a level-headed Scotty Hopson at the other guard, Smith and the Volunteers could become a scary offense that borders nearer aggressiveness rather than timidity.
Jodie Meeks - Kentucky
Jodie Meeks appeared on the national stage after a 54-point performance against Tennessee.
He's a magnificent shooter (averaged nearly 24 a game on 46 percent shooting, 40 percent from three), but scouts are not thrilled about his size (6'4").
Meeks' lack of athleticism and explosiveness to the basket have some teams leery of him as a first-round pick. He is the type of shooter that would thrive with a point guard who can consistently attack the lane and force pinches from the wing.
Without a creator, though, Meeks struggles to get to the basket and finish. If he stays in college and works on his speed and ball-handling, especially in transition, he could thrive despite his size.
And with Calipari signing two athletic point guards, Meeks' game could really get showcased next year and perhaps result in some hardware.
Jeff Teague - Wake Forest
Point guards are a plenty in this draft. Many see the scoring ability of Teague in all facets of the game and think he will translate well to the NBA.
But the second half of his sophomore season paled in comparison to his amazing first half. This should worry NBA scouts, coaches, and executives more than it has.
During Wake Forest's 16-0 run to start the season, Teague averaged a little over 21 points per game.
In his last 15 games, his average dropped to 16 per contest, ending with a 10 point, 1 assist, 5 turnover exit in the first round against Cleveland State.
Teague was turnover-prone all season, but the early payoff was his explosive ability to get to the elbow or lane at will and finish in a variety of ways.
Teague probably needs one more year in college to hone his point guard skills. He has the athleticism to create his own shot and score, but does he have the savvy to run a team?
Austin Daye - Gonzaga
By far my favorite player if he stays in college, and my least favorite if he enters the NBA.
Daye is a 6'11" 200 pound small forward with huge upside. His biggest question mark is his slender build and physically weak play at times.
He is young (will be a 20 year old junior) with tremendous upside. He can and will shoot from beyond the arc and is a nuisance defensively when not being physically pushed around.
Daye's role on Gonzaga this year may have been the issue. Josh Heytvelt was going to be the main post option and the Zags also had solid perimeter play in Jeremy Pargo and Matt Bouldin.
Coupled with guard Micah Downs getting just as much time as Daye, there wasn't much room left for Daye to have the ball consistently in his hands. If he stays one more year, his minutes would definitely increase from 26 a game.
With three of those options gone (Pargo, Downs, Heytvelt), he obviously steps in as one of if not the main option offensively. Mark Few makes his role clear.
The recent draft combine in Chicago was apparently a success for Daye. He's been said to have impressed in drills that display his ball handling and shooting prowess with a long 6'11" frame.
Daye has been compared to Kevin Durant, the parallels being their skills set in a lanky but weak frame.